Cuba can become a more important market for Iowa's agricultural commodities,
say representatives of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Corn
Promotion Board who travelled to Cuba.
"For the last decade, Iowa Corn and the Iowa Department of Agriculture have
led a sustained effort to increase food and feed sales to Cuba," says Craig
Floss, CEO for ICGA and ICPB. "In the last marketing year, 95% of Cuba's corn
imports came from the US. That is real progress, given the legal restrictions on
Cuba's corn purchases this year could be nearly 40
million bushels ( 1 million tonnes), but Floss is even more enthusiastic about
Cuba's development as a market for distillers dried grains, or DDGs from Iowa's
"Distillers dried grains was unknown in Cuba before
2004. Our work to introduce its use is paying off. Last year, the Cubans bought
about 100,000 tonnes, and this year that is expected to double."
ICGA's efforts to open and improve trade with Cuba began with a humanitarian
food donation in 1998, followed by exchanges that brought key Cuban food
officials to Iowa and took Iowa farmers and feed experts to Cuba.
most recent mission focused specifically on educating Cuban livestock feeders in
the use of corn and DDG in dairy, swine and poultry production.
US trade restrictions on Cuba, which have been in place
since Fidel Castro overthrew a pro-US government and installed a Communist
regime there 50 years ago, require Cubans to pay cash for all their purchases of
US food and agricultural products. The US only allows agriculture commodities,
medicine and health products to be sold to Cuba. Imports of Cuban products to
the US are prohibited.
Americans cannot travel to Cuba for tourism. They
can only go for trade missions or educational exchanges. These restrictions hurt
Cuba's ability to earn dollars that could be spent on buying agricultural
products such as US corn and distillers grains. The trade restrictions hurt
Cuban expansion in animal industries, because they lack the dollars to pay for
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